Micro Transactions, and the Candy Crush Phenomenon

Micro Transactions, and the Candy Crush Phenomenon

Alright readers, 30 second history lesson.

In 1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann patented the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device, which is generally recognized as the first ever video game. It was a large device that included it’s own small cathode ray screen and screen overlays. 24 years later in 1972 the magnavox odyssey, the first home video game system was released, this was the first time you could plug a video game into your home television. It was also the very first unit to accept cartridges and play multiple games. This introduced the market for the very first buyable game cartridge, and the market of buying different games for your home console, this was also radically adapted by computers, who sold games on large floppy disks.
This was the trend for the next 28 years, you would buy a computer/game console, and then you would buy the game you want, and then that would be your game and you’d play it. That changed though in 1999 with the release of everquest, the very first game to require a monthly subscription fee to play. Everquest was of course a smash hit, leading to some of the first cases of “online addiction” and dozens of protests followed, ultimately getting the game banned in many countries. Since then, the monthly subscription service concept has grown wildly to include games we all know and love (or hate) today such as World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, and Runescape. Subscription based games can be a dangerous thing, especially MMO’s because some people can get addicted very quickly, and i’m going to do another blog post on that later regarding my personal experience, and views about how quickly some people like to throw around the word “addiction” when it’s not really applicable.

A more recent trend however, that i think is the absolute worst thing to happen to games since their creation, is Micro-Transactions. Small payments often as low as 25 cents, for some little bonus in game. Originally implemented in the X-Box 360 marketplace with cosmetic only items such as character skins and special animations, this mechanic has grown like a virus, ESPECIALLY in the mobile gaming market. Originally Micro transactions were of no real concern, the attitude was usually either ” sweet a cowboy hat to put on my Master Chief while i’m playing online, yeah i’ll pay 99 cents for that.” or ” pfft i’m not paying a dollar for a stupid digital cowboy hat on a game i won’t even be playing 2 months from now.” It was all fine and good, people who were fine with parting with a few bucks got cool unique little items that didn’t really affect the game-play at all, and people that were not simply had the things that came with the game itself.

Things went down hill however when the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion released the infamous horse armor. Horse armour cost 200 microsoft points, (about $2.50) and protected your horse from being killed by conventional weapons. This first instance of in game purchases that actually affect gameplay was met with almost universal disdain. Thus a slippery slope was embarked upon. After that many games were released with in game micro transactions that DRASTICALLY affected gameplay.
Until this point, games like World of warcraft, runescape, Guild Wars, and Everquest made it explicitly against the rules to exchange in game items for real world money. Now however Runescape and Guild wars 2 have buttons IN GAME to buy items, or even worse in Runescape CHANCES at items.

I actually just got into Guild Wars 2 the other day, and the FIRST THING that greeted me was ” please buy gems at our gem store for better weapons, better armor, and in game gold. Wait… WHAT!?!?! i have just created my character, level 1 in the starting area, and you are popping me up a screen that says ” don’t want to play the game that’s fine, just slip us ten bucks and you can have more bank spaces, slip us a fifty and you can be rich with 30 gold pieces. SCREW THAT! I can accept this sort of behavior in free games, Combat arms, Candy Crush, Arctic combat, and pretty much any free game on a smartphone or tablet, but a game that i paid $50 for!? and you insult me with this piddily little bank, and a consistently visible “buy more inventory slots for your character to carry more things” button. That’s unforgiveable, I can see why arena didn’t make GW2 subscription based, because if they did they’d all get canceled almost immediately once you realize your bank only holds 20 items, ( and depending on what version of the game you bought you probably already have 10-15 items you wanna put in there already as soona s you log in.

Guild wars seems to make up for it though by being an otherwise good MMO. ( i still insist that i knock points off for that fact that if you’ve got 50 bucks and about 4 hours to kill you can have a max level character without ever setting foot on the battlefield.)

Finally lets talk about Candy Crush, I love competitive games, I’ll even admit that i got rather into a few facebook games back when that was the new thing, ( i wasted some time on cafe world, vampire wars, car town, and city scape, competing with friends,and i admit it was rather entertaining for a few days.) but after a few it became pretty apparent that you could only get the best cars by BUYING them, the only way to unlock the larger land plots was to BUY them. Cafe world always had a ” finish cooking instantly” option that cost something.

Candy crush for some odd reason has a cult following of addicted users who beg for assistance on facebook and buy moves with actual cash. which for me kills the aspect of competition. in my mind if I’m competing with someone and They’re ahead of me, i want to get ahead of them, the whole point of competition is to prove superiority. As soon as my competitor spends a few dollars to make the game easier for himself/herself, the competition is over, they copped out and i win, or i just don’t feel like getting into a money spending battle with them. They’re welcome to climb to double my level in candy crush, i on the other hand will take my 50 bucks and buy myself something i’ll have for a long while. Trust me in 6 months you’ll look at what you spend on candy crush with regret when you find the next game and start all over from scratch, because trust me, if you fell for candy crush, you’ll fall for the next one.

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